The numbers just keep climbing.
Salvation Army Community Care co-ordinator David Byers says on average, the number of people being served by the food bank are 1,000 a month more than last year.
“We have had a huge year at the Salvation Army, helping a record 3,300 people in May of this year,” he says, noting he only has statistics completed up to August because he’s too busy making sure clients are getting support. “We had 3,200 people last December and we provided a record 725 hampers.”
While they have to provide detailed information in order to get food hampers, anyone can go to the food bank daily and help themselves to whatever is out on the table.
“What is available fluctuates on a daily basis; today we have oranges, potatoes, cereal, cans of soups,” he said Nov. 26. “A lot of people come in and get what’s on the table and they just have to tell us how many people you’re feeding.”
In Salmon Arm, the Salvation Army runs a shelter, a food bank program, a meal program, a Christmas Hamper program, a children’s gift program and we help out in many other ways on an as-needed basis,” he says. “At this time of year, we are looking for food items, specifically protein items, gifts for our Christmas hampers, specifically gifts for teens such as hoodies, movie tickets and hockey tickets.”
On Monday, Byers said food and turkey drives seem to be on par with last year. But toys, particularly for teens are not doing as well and parents will be in to get them for their children next week.
He says the Salvation Army also accepts warm clothes either new or gently used for their shelter guests. If you are planning to donate toys, families will be choosing items for their children on the weekend of Dec. 9.
“We will never turn down a cash donation, as that helps fill in the gaps,” he adds.
“If you went back a couple of years, we were averaging about 2,100 people,” he says of the drastic rise in the number of people needing help. “We go as far as the municipal limits of Enderby and Sicamous and we help Sorrento and Chase.”
With heart disease becoming one of the most rapidly growing health challenges in North America, Food Banks Canada executive director Katherine Schmidt has asked for donations of quality nutritious food items.
Food Banks Canada’s heart-healthy donation recommendations include.
• Grain products – whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat crackers, bagels, hot & cold cereals, granola bars, muffins
• Vegetables and fruit – canned fruit and vegetables, 100 per cent fruit juice, tomato sauce, canned soup, tomato juice.
• Milk products – dry milk powder, milk puddings, cheese spreads.
• Meat and alternatives – canned meat and fish, peanut butter, canned baked beans, dried or canned beans and lentils.
And to add a bit of holiday cheer at this time of year, include cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and treats such as candy or cake mixes.
The Silverbacks are getting in on the action by hosting their annual Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 5 and a food drive in collaboration with Askew’s Food on Dec. 21.
If you need a Christmas hamper, applications are available at the food bank at the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter 441 3 St SW. The deadline to receive applications is Friday, Dec. 4.
Kettle donations are down over last year and volunteers are needed to oversee the kettles at various locations. If you can handle a two-hour shift, call Mary MacArthur at 250-253-1536.